Updated (March 19, 5:30pm)
The renewal dynamic had a new twist on March 18th when NDP members rejected Leader John Horgan’s chosen candidate, Lower Nicola First Nations Chief Aaron Sam, and opted for Harry Lali who first won in 1991, re-elected in 1996, did not run in 2001, elected in 2005, re-elected in 2009, and defeated in 2013. Lali’s candidacy puts a punctuation mark on my blog post.
Andrew Weaver raised the issue of term limits for BC politicians. He assumes that voters can’t make up their own mind whether they want to keep their MLA or not. It’s not such a bad thing to have a bit of experience in the Legislature. I suppose Andrew Weaver would have had Winston Churchill sit out WWII! I can hear the cries of “Shame!” emanating from Oak Bay right now.
But renewal is important. Most voters would say that “new blood” is important for our public institutions. I certainly believe that. Last election, Premier Christy Clark made a strong statement by recruiting a lot of new, strong candidates. It was seen as one of the hallmarks of her success. Half of her caucus was newly elected in 2013, which is uncommonly high. This time, the Premier continues to recruit strong new candidates like First Nations leaders Ellis Ross, Wanda Good, and Dallas Smith; former Coast Capital CEO Tracy Redies; and former journalists Steve Darling and Jas Johal… just to name a handful from a very solid list.How have the BC Liberals and NDP renewed themselves? The past three provincial elections have seen a level of stability in BC and provides a basis to compare:
- 2005: 46 BC Liberals vs 33 NDP
- 2009: 49 BC Liberals vs 35 NDP vs 1 IND
- 2013: 49 BC Liberals vs 34 NDP vs 1 IND vs 1 Green
In terms of renewal, you would think there would be more BC Liberals remaining from the class of 2005 than NDP since there were more BC Liberals elected. In fact, the opposite is true.
- There are 15 NDP MLAs from 2005 running for re-election in 2017. That equates to 45% of NDP MLAs elected in 2005 still around to seek another term in office in 2017. Plus Jagrup Brar, who was elected from 2004-2013, is seeking to return. Harry Lali (1991-2001, 2005-2013) also now adds to this list.
- The BC Liberals elected 46 MLAs in 2005 but only 9 remain today to run in the 2017 election. Thus, less than 20% of BC Liberal MLAs elected in 2005 are running today.
- Thus, using 2005 as a point of reference, the BC Liberals have renewed at more than twice the rate than the NDP.
Another way to look at it is that out of 87 ridings today, only 18 BC Liberal MLAs seeking re-election in 2017 were elected prior to 2013. That group makes up only 20% of the BCL candidate slate, and only 43% of the current caucus (with the remainder having been elected in 2013). That is also a pretty good renewal rate.
The BC NDP have 20 MLAs who have been around since prior to 2009 that are seeking re-election, which is 57% of their current caucus. Their renewal rate is lower. NDP MLAs stick around longer, especially on Vancouver Island.
On Vancouver Island, there is only Michelle Stilwell seeking re-election for the BC Liberals and she was elected in 2013. The NDP have 8 MLAs that were elected in 2005 and going for their fourth term. That seems like the opposite of renewal and sets up a clear contrast between the parties. For those Canucks fans arguing for a rebuild of the team, that’s what is happening on the Island for the BC Liberals. After disappointing results in 2013, the BC Liberals have pressed reset, retooled, and relaunched with a slate of candidates that bring new energy. Same old NDP faces, for the most part.
Andrew Weaver’s motivation to renew the Legislature is a good thing. The BC Liberals have excelled at renewal compared to many modern political parties. Perhaps Dr. Weaver is surrounded on Vancouver Island by so many BC NDP MLAs seeking a fourth term that he sees term limits as his only escape. This time, there may be a cohort of first-term BC Liberal MLAs on the Island to ease his concerns… maybe even in Oak Bay.
For reference (Class of 2005):
|2005 NDP||2005 BCL|
|Running in 2017||Out of office/retiring||Running in 2017||Out of office/retiring|
|Fraser||Simpson||de Jong||van Dongen|